Colombian admits importing cocaine
NEW YORK — A Colombian described by authorities as one of the biggest cocaine dealers in history pleaded guilty Thursday to a drug trafficking charge, admitting that he imported hundreds of tons of cocaine into the United States.
Known as “El Loco,” Daniel Barrera Barrera entered the plea in Manhattan federal court before a federal magistrate judge. Sentencing was set for Feb. 27, when Barrera faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life.
He was arrested in 2012 in Venezuela and has been held without bail since he was brought to the United States from Colombia in July 2013.
Prosecutors say Barrera worked with two Colombian terrorist organizations to manufacture and distribute cocaine while laundering tens of millions of dollars in drug proceeds.
His lawyer declined to comment outside court after the plea proceeding in which Barrera spoke with the aid of a Spanish translator.
U.S. prosecutors have described the 47-year-old Barrera as one of the largest cocaine distributors in history. They alleged he processed about 30,000 kilograms — more than 60,000 pounds — of raw cocaine into cocaine powder each month since 1998.
On Thursday, Barrera admitted manufacturing and distributing 400 tons of cocaine annually from 1998 to 2011.